I stumbled across a great blog the other day: My Husband Hates Veggies. There are some absolutely awesome recipes I can’t wait to try — like her trick of sneaking butternut squash and carrots into mashed sweet potatoes. She’s got all kinds of techniques for dealing with a picky eater who turns his nose up at vegetables.
Now, I’m lucky — my son and husband both like many vegetables. Broccoli, carrots, lima beans… well, okay, my husband doesn’t care for lima beans all that much, but since he usually substitutes spinach or turnip greens when Daniel and I have lima beans, I guess I can’t complain about that.
In fact, the other night, as we were finishing up supper, Daniel said he was still hungry. When I asked him what he was in the mood for, he said he’d like a “nice tossed salad.” So, of course, I made him one — I mean, how often does a six year old say he wants a salad? Hearts of romaine, baby-cut carrots, a sprinkle of sliced almonds and some low-fat Ranch dressing and his hunger was satisfied.
Even so, I like to work extra veggies into our diet whenever I can.
So here’s my Ninja trick for “semi-stealth veggies.” I say “semi-stealth” because they’re not so invisible that nobody can tell they’re there, but they’re mixed in so well, nobody seems to care (at least, not around this house). Of course, if you’re feeding hard-core veggie-haters, your situation might require more elaborate means of concealment.
So here’s my method for “undercover” veggies.
I take firm veggies like celery, green pepper, onions or carrots and run ’em through the food processor (or use one of those push-top hand choppers — before I got my food processor I was using my Pampered Chef hand chopper almost every day). Mince them up really, really small. Little teensy tiny itty-bitty pieces.
I’ll do at least a cup, cup and a half of each at a time, so I can use what I need right away and put the rest in the fridge to use over the next day or two. Or if it’s a “Make Ahead Saturday” when I’m preparing multiple dishes for the coming week(s), I just might use ’em all up at once.
Then add them to things like meatloaf, taco meat, spaghetti sauce, casseroles, meatballs, hamburger patties — pretty much anything where you’re using ground beef.
I usually put in about a cup to a cup and a half of veggies per pound of ground beef, in whatever combination I have handy. Depending on the other seasonings in the dish, you could do the same thing with firm-textured fruits like apples or pears, which would impart a sweeter flavor.
Just add some kind of binding agent in things like meatloaf, meatballs or hamburger patties (like an egg or egg substitute and some seasoned bread crumbs or stuffing mix) to absorb the extra moisture from the veggies and help the meat mixture hold its shape. (You might have to experiment a bit with the poportions until you can consistently get the texture and flavor you want.)
(Oh, yeah, and they’re excellent sprinkled over the top of a tossed salad, too — tasty, crunchy, and probably a lot better for you than croutons.)
Give it a try!